IN TODAY’S MODERN MEDICINE Google is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to self-diagnosis. Patients are more informed about a condition or illness before they even enter the hospital. However, they do not have all the information about medications, possible interventions, and prognosis, nor do they know of all resources available. It is the responsibility of both the medical team and you as the patient to establish an open and honest dialogue. You, as the patient, must take ownership of your health. I’ve put together a list of questions that will help you direct the course of your health.
Are you aware that I am LGBT?
Knowing that you are LGBT will allow your doctor or nurse to tailor your health care needs. (If you think this information is too personal, just wait until he/she has to stick a finger up your backdoor without buying you a drink first.) Most importantly, if your physician doesn’t seem comfortable with your sexuality, don’t hesitate to find another doctor.
For what sexually transmitted infections should I be tested?
- Know your status! According to AIDS. gov., 50,000 people are diagnosed with HIV every year.
- You need to ask for a comprehensive screening for Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Hepatitis, Herpes, and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV),the other leading STI’s.
Do I need to be screened for HPV?
Yes, because this virus affects both men and women. Women are at risk for Cervical Cancer and men are at risk for Anal Cancer and genital warts. Vaginal and anal Pap smears should be considered. (Everyone needs a good sphincter stretch now and then!)
What extra vaccinations should I consider?
- Hepatitis A and B
- Flu and Pneumonia
- HPV and Meningitis
- Childhood vaccinations need to be up to date.
Am I exercising and eating appropriately?
Obesity is an epidemic in the United States and, contrary to popular belief, gay men are not immune to this. Eating right and exercising can help prevent many serious health issues: stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and cancer.
How do I stop smoking?
I am not going to be a broken record because we all have heard the risks of smoking; but trust me when I say that you are going to wish you had quit smoking when a nurse is suctioning out your lungs through your tracheotomy site. Ask your physician about different medications to help with the cravings and cessation of smoking. You NEED to STOP smoking!
How does drinking and drug use affect my health?
We all like to party! Be honest with your doctor; you’ll be surprised to know that many doctors and nurses work hard and party hard. These substances may not be a problem for you now, but talk with your doctor about the long-term consequences of alcohol and drug use.
What screenings do I need at my age?
Preventative screening and care is key!
- Blood pressure check, once every 6 months
- Cholesterol check, once every 2 years
- Colorectal Cancer at age 45
- Prostate Exam at age 45
Is there something wrong with my head?
LGBT individuals are more susceptible to anxiety and depression than the general public. Just because you don’t think you’re depressed or feel “blue” doesn’t mean you don’t suffer from some degree of depression.
Are there any risks when I use herbal remedies and/or supplements?
Make sure you provide a complete list of herbal supplements. Some can cause significant side effects or have negative interactions with other medications. For example:
-Ginkgo Biloba can cause bleeding; therefore, Aspirin and other blood thinning medications should be used with caution.
- St. John’s Wort can cause increased fatigue, dizziness, confusion, or severe allergic reaction; therefore antidepressants need to be used with caution.
Have Some Condom Sense!